Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center Budget Cuts Include 45 Layoffs
Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center has found a way to close its budget gap, but it means changes for employees and the center itself.To make up for $2.5 million in state budget cuts, the center has had to reduce staff and the number of beds, as well as adjust its services. State money is matched by federal funds, which means it’s more than just the $2.5 million that the center had to cut.”What that translates to is a $7 million budget reduction or 26% budget reduction to the hospital effective fiscal year 2013,” said Dorothea Dix Superintendent Linda Abernethy, during a press conference Tuesday morning.On Monday, 45 employees were told their positions are being eliminated. In total, 88 jobs were cut, but many of those were already vacant because the center knew it’d be reducing staff. Abernethy said it would have been impossible to close the budget gap without layoffs. “80% of our budget is in people, salaries and benefits and the costs of people. So if you take a 25% cut, it has to affect the people,” she said.Members of the Bangor City Council committee formed to help save the psychiatric center say these cuts are unfortunate but not surprising. “Because of actions like this the committee was formed and has been working to 1) maintain the hospital at the current level that it’s in and 2) to discuss some creative solutions, such as rehabing about 110,000 square feet of vacant space that’s at the hospital into some sort of housing for the chronically mentally ill,” said Bangor City Councilor Joseph Baldacci. Both the city council committee and Abernethy’s staff are committed to keeping Dorothea Dix open. Abernethy said it’s too soon to say whether these most recent cuts will be enough to do that in the long term.